BookTrust is the UK's largest children's reading charity. Each year they reach 3.4 million children across the UK with books, resources and support.
Emily Drabble from BookTrust very kindly agreed to do this interview with us so that we could find out more about BookTrust and how we can all support the incredible work it does.
What do you love most about working for BookTrust?
It’s incredible to work for an organisation where everyone’s desks are piled high with children’s books, where people talk about children’s books and children’s reading while they’re boiling the kettle. I love that so much.
We recently attended the BookTrust Bath, Book Bed event in Manchester and really enjoyed listening to the advice from Jo Frost. Why do you think the Bath, Book, Bed routine is so important for children?
My children aged 11 and 16 still do bath, book, bed and so do I at aged 47! I think starting young with this sets you up for life, and a lifetime of reading. To me there’s nothing nicer than curling up with a good book after a nice bubble bath.
BookTrust recently announced that as part of your Time to Read campaign, you will be giving every reception aged child in England a copy of The Bumblebear picture book. What do you believe are the main benefits of finding time to read with children?
Reading with my own children has been (and still is) one of the biggest joys of my life. There are so many amazing books to share and truly I believe every child can love books and will love books if they are introduced to the joys of reading early enough.
Reading together is cosy, it’s comforting, it’s a chance to talk through scenarios that haven’t happened to them yet for example starting school and it’s a chance to work through fears and problems. Books are beautiful, they help stimulate children’s imagination and set them off on their own journeys in life.
If you read with your children you will help them develop amazing skills, that will not just help in terms of their education but also with social skills, development and many other aspects of their life, and it’s totally fun too.
BookTrust have some fantastic programmes and free resources for schools, what are your top tips for teachers who want to make reading in the classroom even more fun?
My top tip is about book choice. Don’t necessarily stick to the old classics, although these are brilliant. Widen your book choice, BookTrust’s website will help you to discover even more books, authors and illustrators. There are so many incredible books around now, make the most of them!
What are your top tips for parents and carers who want to encourage a love of reading in their children?
My top tip is read out loud with your children every day. Make it part of your life. Don’t stop reading with your children when they learn to read, instead read books that they might struggle to read themselves but love listening too. You’ll be taken on journeys with your kids that you’ll be able to talk about for years.
Don’t give up if your child is a bit wriggly, it takes time to develop a reading habit. Don’t give up if your child doesn’t like the book you’re reading. Just find another one! If you’re stuck with what to read, check out BookTrust’s really useful book finder tool that helps you sort by age and theme. There are tonnes of ideas on the site and you can also visit your local library or school library for inspiration too.
Sarah McIntyre is currently BookTrust’s writer-illustrator in residence and we are excited to see everything she does as part of her Big Red Book Show. Why do BookTrust think it is important to have a writer-illustrator in residence
We love having a special relationship with two authors or illustrators (in Sarah’s case, she’s both!) a year at BookTrust. It allows us to dig deeper into particular areas and for our audience to really get to know an author or illustrator beyond promoting a particular book. Children’s authors and illustrators are basically the most fascinating and creative people you’ll hope to meet so it’s so fantastic to work with them in this wonderful way.
How excited were you when Daddy Pig was announced as a BookTrust Ambassador? How do you think programmes like Peppa Pig help children to learn?
It made me snort with excitement. Daddy Pig loves reading to Peppa so he’s a perfect ambassador for us. Apart from being a pig, he’s a typical dad and we think a lot of parents can relate to him! Daddy Pig is a wonderful advocate for us to help encourage as many families to read together, enjoy stories and develop an appreciation for stories and books.
What can we all do to help support the fantastic work done by BookTrust?
Thanks for asking that question! We love it when people talk about our website and send their fans over to us for expert advice. Do follow us on social media and join in/share any content that would be helpful to encourage others to read. We would love book lovers to think about supporting our Friends scheme so they can help more children from all backgrounds become readers for pleasure.
What is your favourite children’s book?
That’s a hard one. I have so many favourites. For myself when I was growing up it was probably The Peppermint Pig by Nina Bawden (it’s why I became a vegetarian) I also loved the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. A lot of who I am today is in those books.
To read to my son SF Said’s Varjak Paw was a massive book for us, plus anything by Michael Morpurgo (who has made me cry more than anyone else in the world) for me and my daughter it’s been Jacqueline Wilson all the way. Hetty Feather is one of the most brilliant books ever written. Alex Wheatle's Crongton Knights trilogy is also up there at the top. I love the way Alex writes; the voices are so strong they whip you into his world.
I read children’s books to myself for pleasure all the time to this day, especially now my children are getting older. I’m a massive Katherine Rundell fan, and I love Sarah Crossan so much, and Sally Nicholls and David Almond. The list of the authors and books I love is obscenely long, I could literally talk about it all day.
If you could spend a day with one of the PrenderPals who would it be and why?
If I could spend a day with any of the pals, I'd choose Clara the Chinchilla. Clara is fun loving, enthusiastic and loves flowers, just like me, so I think we'd be brilliant friends.